Luke is the Wright man for the second Test

England must pick Luke Wright if they are to improve their attack in the second Test at Durban

Just before three o’clock yesterday when South Africa took the second new ball it seemed unlikely that it would be Graham Onions batting to save the Test match for England. Jonathan Trott was well set and Paul Collingwood was looking to continue his recent good form at the other end, eyes were drawn to the clock to see how long it was until the captains would be allowed to shake hands on a draw.

That was until the dramatic collapse, the sort of which only England are capable of. A fine catch dismissed Trott, the below par Ian Bell edged behind, Matt Prior soon followed, as did Stuart Broad and when Graeme Swann was trapped in front England were looking down the barrel. They had contrived to lose four wickets for only thirteen runs and South Africa were odds on to claim the honours in the first Test. Yet the Durham boys Onions and Collingwood fought together to claim a thrilling draw for the tourists.

A draw is not a bad result in the back yard of the team ranked second in the world, especially when, replying to South Africa’s 418, England found themselves reduced to 242-8. They had Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson to thank for keeping them in the game at that point but it has to be said that England’s original team selection was wrong.

Unless you posses the talent of Wasim Akram, Malcolm Marshall, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne it is extremely hard to win Test matches with four bowlers. It is true that Andrew Flintoff’s decision to retire has severely affected the balance of the side but, to compete regularly with the likes of South Africa, England need to employ five bowlers. The question is, who comes in, who goes out and can England go into a Test match with Stuart Broad batting at seven?

If Andy Flower does decide England need to change tact, Ian Bell looks set to be the man to miss out. A combined score of seven is not good enough and he is yet to answer the critics who claim he cannot handle the pressure of Test matches. Another potential loser is Alastair Cook. It is doubtful he will lose his place but on form alone he must be second in line behind Bell. He failed to impress against Australia and, apart from against West Indies, he hasn’t scored a century since December 2007. He is vice-captain though and looks unlikely to drop out, leaving Ian Bell’s neck firmly on the line.

The next question is then, who would come in? The options are Luke Wright, Ryan Sidebottom, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, James Tredwell or Mark Davies. From these the realistic options are probably Wright and Sidebottom. Wright brings balance as he can both bat and bowl, but Sidebottom brings true bowling prowess. The downside of selecting the curly haired seamer is of course the effect it has on England’s batting line up: notably Broad playing at seven. Number sevens should be averaging mid-twenties, be more than capable of fifties and able to save games – think Mark Boucher and Adam Gilchrist. Broad is not yet a number seven.

This is why I think Luke Wright will be getting a late Christmas present come Boxing Day in Durban. He can slot in at seven and will be useful as the fifth bowler. His selection is the more conservative choice but given England are in South Africa it is the selection I believe Flower will plump for. England were under par at Centurion and need a vast improvement if they are contemplating victory, some changes are clearly needed so that it’s not the bat of Graham Onions saving the day for Strauss’ men.

13 comments

  1. no way jose!!

    the likes of kallis, smith, amla etc will tear into him. his bowling stats are dire

    ODI ave. 10 [email protected] each
    First class ave.78 [email protected] 42 each

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  2. It’s not all about averages though. Vaughan and Trescothick both had modest averages when Fletcher called them up. He will bring balance to a side that needs to find a new all-rounder. He’s not a superb bowler but in ODIs he has done well, he has looked good with the ball on this tour so far and he’s deceptively quick.

    If you don’t select him you either have 6 batsman and 4 bowlers, or you have Broad at 7. What would you prefer?

    I think this just exposes our lack of all-rounders because, as you say, his bowling isn’t awe inspiring but I think he’s the best of an average bunch.

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  3. 22 Dec ’09 at 1:41 pm

    Andrew Flintoff

    I sh*t on all these players

    Note by moderator: this probably isn’t Andrew Flintoff

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  4. 13 Jan ’10 at 4:45 pm

    Edmund Bovingdon

    Wright’s rubbish

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  5. 13 Jan ’10 at 4:50 pm

    Someone who actually plays and watches cricket

    Do you actually know anything about cricket?

    People don’t “play” at number 7 they bat there, plus what era of cricket are you born in?> How many number 7s in the last 5 years have kept their place with an average of 25 – absolute rubbish.

    Plus luke wright is a one day player he neither bowls well enough or bats well enough to get in the team – and you want him to do both!!! Vaughan’s first class average was relatively low for a test player because he batted at headingley when it was a green top most games – much harder to get runs than other surfaces.

    If you were a cricketer you would know the above

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  6. Yes, I do actually know about cricket. I play it and I watch a lot of it. You obviously disagree with me, which is fine, but there’s no need to cast aspersions like that.

    I don’t think the difference between batting and playing at 7 is anything more than pedantic, I know your number 7 has to get you runs and perhaps mid-twenties was a little on the low side but England have never had a Gilchrist figure at 7. Flintoff averaged 32 at 7, Jones averaged 26 and Prior currently averages 42. I know averages aren’t everything but, apart from Prior whose average suggests he should be at 6, this shows we don’t have that many options.

    That taken into account you have to agree that IF England want to go into a side with 5 bowlers then Broad is probably not a good enough batsman to move up to 7. Thus I suggested Luke Wright as the best option we have as an all-rounder. If you look at what I said it was what I thought England might do, not what I necessarily wanted to do, because we were poor at Centurion and I thought Flower and Strauss might choose to change things. I know Wright wouldn’t get into the side on the strength of his batting or bowling alone but England are looking to replace Flintoff. Wright is not fantastic but he could do a job, and this sentence shows my feelings about him:

    “I think this just exposes our lack of all-rounders because, as you say, his bowling isn’t awe inspiring but I think he’s the best of an average bunch.”

    As for players’ averages when they came into the side you have conveniently left out your analysis on why Trescothick’s average wasn’t brilliant. Trescothick plies his trade at Taunton, the flattest track on the county circuit and yet his selection was a hunch from Duncan Fletcher.

    I hope you’ll realise that while we disagree, to say I don’t know about cricket is a bit harsh. I’m sure I get things wrong from time to time, currently listening to Boycott who makes plenty of mistakes, but I am passionate about cricket and would like to think I know a fair bit about it.

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  7. 14 Jan ’10 at 12:31 pm

    Someone who plays cricket and hates ignorance

    Do you actually understand what the article is about?

    Henry Cowen is clearly a fan of four bowlers in a test team, one of them being an all-rounder. Who else apart from Luke Wright fits the criteria for an all-rounder in the test team? He clearly can’t be too far off as Luke Wright was selected to go out to S.A.

    How about rather than shout out your obnoxious opinions, you offer an alternative thought provoking canditate?

    P.S – Trescothick’s lowly first class average was achieved at Taunton, and for someone who claims not only to play but watch cricket, you will realise how moronic your argument about Vaughan is.

    Many Thanks

    Deborah

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  8. 15 Jan ’10 at 5:19 pm

    Someone who actually plays and watches cricket

    Deborah thanks for response but I you just made yourself look stupid. I declined to talk about trescothik deliberately as his average at Taunton – the best pitch in england – was poor. Trescothick (as shown by him going mental) has always been a confidence player and in his younger days he struggled to score big runs, but the selectors saw something in him and picked him. You claim to know Taunton is a good deck but then you extrapolate my point about Vaughan to be moronic, which is completely illogical. You either accept my premise or not, you can’t pick it up and drop it when you like.

    Henry, your response only reinforces my criticism – whether you really want 4 bowlers or not. Luke Wright is not a good enough bowler or batsmen – therefore he should do neither not both. The real argument – by people who know cricket- is whether the proportionate benefit of playing another bowler (i.e. the wickets they will take) will outweigh the runs that broad and swann will make at 7 and 8, plus the runs that bell may score at 6.

    There you go Deborah I have spelt it out for you because you obviously couldn’t understand my initial point – probably because you don’t know anything about cricket

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  9. I still don’t quite understand why you’re writing me off as someone who doesn’t know cricket. I understand everything you’re saying about the relative pros and cons of four bowlers of five. Personally I would prefer five. I do not think we have four bowlers who are good enough to take twenty wickets regularly. Therefore I am of the belief that we need an all-rounder at 7. Someone who will score you runs and bowl some very useful overs, hopefully taking his share of wickets. I have already said that Luke Wright is not a fantastic answer to that all-rounder question, but, he is the only genuine all-rounder option at the moment. Something showed by the fact he was taken on the tour by the England selectors. As Deborah said, if not him, who else? Perhaps Rashid as a second spinner? If you prefer four bowlers then that’s fine but I would be interested to know who, if anyone, you would have at seven if we played five bowlers.

    You might be interested to know that before the second test it wasn’t just me, the man who apparently knows nothing about cricket, who suggested that perhaps Luke Wright should play. It was also Duncan Fletcher, Graham Thorpe and Nasser Hussain who all wrote articles on why they believed he should play.

    You disagree, fair enough, stop being so arrogant as to write off people’s cricketing knowledge. Unless you fancy penning a reply to Fletcher, Thorpe and Hussain as well.

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  10. 15 Jan ’10 at 11:06 pm

    Someone who actually plays and watches cricket

    I will happily write off Nasser Hussain as he is the worst cricket pundit I have ever seen – he said the other day Bell has never played poorly for England… he has the rankest commentary chat i have ever heard.

    You can’t tell me you can believe the opinions of someone who plays in down under for 2 weeks and comes back speaking with an Australian accent + that rubbish lisp he’s always had. He was a great batsmen – doesn’t mean he knows who should play for England. Maradona was amazing but we all know Schiavi shouldn’t be near international football.

    Can’t explain Duncan Fletcher – he must fancy Luke Wright or something.

    Now I made my suggestions clear :

    “The real argument – by people who know cricket- is whether the proportionate benefit of playing another bowler (i.e. the wickets they will take) will outweigh the runs that broad and swann will make at 7 and 8, plus the runs that bell may score at 6.”

    This argument may be far too nuanced for you as an occasional cricket watcher but it’s not…(wait for it) for anyone who understands cricket.

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  11. 16 Jan ’10 at 3:07 am

    Someone who plays cricket and hates ignorance

    I get the feeling that you are out to annoy and not provide interesting points of view.

    If accents are your real nuance, i suggest you find a therapist.

    Duncan Fletcher is the same man who guided us to the 2005 ashes, so unless you have been sat in a cupboard for half a decade stroking a cat as it is your only friend, i suggest you go and find a therapist.

    I am so glad you bought up the ‘proportionate benefit’ argument as it is actually an attempt at a serious point of view so well done. But sat here on the eve of the third day of the fourth test when we are struggling to bowl out S.A with three seam bowlers, and not four… I have to ask YOU sir, as an avid cricket player and watcher… what would you change? Is it by any chance a fourth seamer?

    Thanks,

    Deborah – Cricket player and watcher.

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